Voice of the Vestry: “We are all priests”

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

By Helen Hankins

Hankins_HelenWhen Bill and I became members of Grace Church several years ago, we were impressed by the amount of outreach we saw occurring. What we did not immediately see or appreciate was the amount of study that Grace offered.

As a “cradle” Episcopalian/Anglican, I have never been a member of a church that offers such an array of study opportunities.
I have just completed the four years of study for Education for Ministry (EfM). That does not mean that I have studied for the priesthood as my grandson asked! Ministry is meant in the broadest terms. One of the most powerful books we all read in class was Living on the Border of Holy, by L. William Countryman. He writes, “we are all priests as we are learning and seeking to serve each other in the world around us.”

When I first started study for the EfM class, in East Lansing, the mentor told me I had to write my Spiritual Autobiography.  Terrified, I said, “But I don’t have one!” After listening to other class members, it became clear that we all do have one. It is a wonderful exercise as you learn to reflect upon times in your life when the Holy Spirit was at work, times when you often did not recognize the significance of what was happening around you.

For the past two years Greg and Rosemary Hagan have been our mentors. Under their loving leadership our small group has come to know, share, and trust each other. As our discussions deepened and we learned the practice of “Theological Reflection,” I would say we became a family.

Many of you know that Bill died suddenly and unexpectedly in May. I  treasure the gift of our two years studying EfM together. We discussed the mysteries of spiritual life more deeply than we had ever done before.

To quote from Countryman, “our growth as priests in the following of Christ is shaped by three particular qualities of Christian Life,  they are,  Faith, Hope, and Love.”

I believe this is what we strive for at Grace.

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